A little less than a month after Canadian tennis star Genie Bouchard retired from her second-round match in Charleston against Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain with a recurrence of her abdominal injury, she return to action at the joint WTA-ATP Tour tournament in Madrid, Spain this coming week.
But she will do it without coach Thomas Hogstedt.
— PabloBets (@PabloBets) April 29, 2016
Eh Game has learned that the relationship with Hogstedt, who was an enthousiastic, steadying influence as the 22-year-old returned from the concussion suffered at the US Open last September, is over.
In fact, the amiable Swede has a new gig lined up; he is already the new coach of American Madison Keys, according to reliable source. Keys is also working with Bouchard's former trainer, Scott Byrnes.
— Carlos García (@CarlosG_1996) April 29, 2016
What that means for the future isn't quite clear.
Longtime coach Nick Saviano, who made a return appearance with Team Bouchard at that Charleston event, will not be at the Mutua Madrid Open.
Bouchard will have Cyril Saulnier, a French former Tour player who is the director of a tennis academy in South Florida and has served as a hitting partner for Bouchard on several occasions this year, with her in Madrid, Rome and likely also at the French Open.
Saviano is expected to be in Paris.
Will there be some sort of official coaching announcement in Madrid? Bouchard's history in terms of issues of that nature is inconclusive.
The first opponent for the unseeded Bouchard, currently ranked No. 46, will be Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu. If she wins that, she could face No. 3 seed Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain in the second round.
Muguruza is currently being coached by Sam Sumyk, who was Bouchard's coach in 2015 from early February through Wimbledon.
Begu (ranked No. 35) and Bouchard have met once before, in the fourth around at the 2015 Australian Open; Bouchard won in three sets.
In off-court news, the first tangible effect of the Maria Sharapova doping suspension on Bouchard's endorsement commitments has already been felt. Both players are sponsored by Nike.
Bouchard has posted a number of photos and videos from the unveiling of a new Hypermesh product in the last few days.
— Genie Bouchard (@geniebouchard) April 28, 2016
That's a campaign for which Sharapova was originally supposed to be the lead player. But because of her current suspension in the wake of a positive test for meldonium pending the outcome of an upcoming hearing, and Nike's subsequent announcement that it was suspending its association with her, it fell to Bouchard to pick up the slack.
On that note, tennis player Sergey Betov of Belarus (currently ranked No. 77 in doubles), also tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open and was suspended at approximately the same time as Sharapova. Today, the ITF released a statement saying the amount of the substance found in Betov's system was below the threshold it had established.
The ITF is giving him the benefit of the doubt that a six-week course of treatment with the drug last October had not left his system by Jan. 1, when meldonium became a banned substance. Bury is eligible to return to action immediately; whether or not this will impact Sharapova remains to be seen.